Complex Photonic Systems II (COPOS II)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: Engineering


This proposal seeks the renewal of the COPOS Platform grant at the Centre for Photonic Systems at Cambridge University. The rationale for the work is the premise that the field of photonics must progress from focussing on single function systems (for example optical fibre links), where advances in performance have been primarily due to developing bespoke high speed components, to one where much more complex systems can be constructed using greater levels of integration. Such advances should benefit from the expanding range of optical materials available, especially flexible materials. It is increasingly accepted that should such goals be achieved, then photonics can become a technology of ubiquitous application in the 21st Century, as electronics became in the 20th Century. For it to be fully adopted however, not only should the integration technology deliver the performance and functionality required, but it should use readily available processes. In short the technology should become commoditised and available to a much wider range of manufacturers.As a result, COPOS II will seek to build on past research at Cambridge to develop integration fabrication techniques which can be used by non-photonic companies, in particular those involved in printed circuit board manufacture. The work will develop exemplar sub-systems which will not only allow greater functionality in performance, but can be made at low cost (even for low volumes), whilst addressing growing issues such as energy consumption. There will be two main integration technologies at the heart of the project: (i) the use of siloxanes formed directly on large area printed circuit boards so that multilayer electronic and photonic circuits can be formed using low cost processing, with the optical and electronic components populated using pick-and-place techniques, and (ii) the use of quantum dot III-V material systems for forming integrated circuit functions (such as large port count active routers) which cannot be realised using the siloxane technology, but which can be readily integrated with it. In the case of (ii), it is intended later in the project to print active components (for example organic LEDs and detectors) directly onto the board and to introduce capacitive coupling to electronic components for the lowest possible power consumption. As a result, by developing these two integration approaches, we believe that we can meet the great majority of future integration requirements for photonic systems.It should be noted that a series of specific application goals including interconnect, Ethernet, healthcare and imaging systems, have been set to encourage the research to advance in as adventurous a manner as possible. In introducing a more challenge- based approach to our research, we are keen to extend the level of electronic and photonic integration, such as: (i) much greater use of complementary electronic signal processing. (ii) introduction of printing techniques both for electronic and optical integration. (iii) the introduction of much greater levels of (non-wavelength) parallelism in optical circuits.In addition to enabling us to develop our research, the platform grant will also allow us to innovate in our research practice and hence deliver additional benefits. For example, the grant would enable us to develop new techniques to: (i) manage our research and develop it strategically while flexibly engaging in new concepts. (ii) retain the wide range of skills which are so important in this type of activity whilst empowering key members of our group to build up their own careers by broadening their expertise. (iii) grow our outreach activities. (iv) engage in new industrial and international academic collaborations, whilst developing our existing ones.

Planned Impact

The applicants believe that the proposed grant can have substantial non-academic impact, not least because of their track record in innovation. For example, in the Ethernet standard, the group was involved in setting the standards for the uncooled lasers used (over 500M have now been sold) and it developed the offset launch technique to obtain the required transmission performance in worst case links. Within the 10G Ethernet standard, the Cambridge Model was adopted by the major companies involved for standards validation. A bye-product of this work was the invention by the group of a new type of laser which has then been licensed for use in computer mice, 100M such devices having been made last year. The group has also had experience of founding a start-up company, Zinwave, which has received $25M in funding and recently has completed RF-over-fibre installations in venues such as the Constitution Center in Washington, the Emirates Stadium in London and the New York Yankees stadium. The group has a strong record of engaging with industry, both large companies and SMEs, and we intend this to continue. The group currently has substantial direct industrial funding of research, with large projects with Dow Corning, Boeing and Avago. Overall we now have collaborations with > 15 companies, including Oclaro, Ericsson, Traak, Zinwave, Motorola, Arup, and Alcatel. Typically companies seek collaborations with commercialisation opportunities on the 5-10 year timescale but some of our more fundamental work will have applications >20 years hence. The applicants have also sought to have impact by leading activities which seek to encourage exploitation. For example they are heavily involved in the Cambridge IKC, where they have instigated novel training, roadmapping and business derisking activities involving research academics, students and industrialists. A sample testament to the success of this is the following quote: I just wanted to tell you about the very positive experience I had at a meeting of the IKC roadmapping and commercialisation workshop. I met all the relevant people .... for the first time on a subject, we were all interested in. I think we need more of these events and I am pleased you have supported their creation. Hermann Hauser, Amadeus Capital Partners. Through this and related events the investigators have increasingly become involved in policy consultation. Within the proposed platform grant we wish to extend our current methods of achieving impact for our research. Such methods include different forms of meetings with industry including: (i) focussed meetings just involving the companies themselves. (ii) EU NoE meetings which can provide an excellent forum for highlighting the research carried out. (iii) partnership meetings to draw complementary companies and policy makers together (sometimes via a roadmapping activity) to result in new opportunities for exploiting our research and inspire new research concepts. (iv) standards meetings as these provide an excellent vehicle by which research can most rapidly translate into practice (the applicants have experience of chairing task forces). (v) showcase events where we insist on demonstrating (rather than just presenting) our work, this often leads to exciting new opportunities for exploitation. We also seek to promote our work through press articles both within trade magazines and national newspapers. In short we seek to become a hub where academia can meet industry and policy makers, by way of partnership, to identify new research and innovation opportunities. We have been keen to embrace both short and longer term projects with industry (both large and smaller companies), and have attracted a range of funding from organisations such as the TSB to enable this. Finally, we will continue to seek to licence new concepts or create new companies as appropriate.
Description The main aim of this project has been to progress from focussing on single function systems (for example optical fibre links), where advances in performance have been primarily due to developing bespoke high speed components, to one where much more complex systems can be constructed using greater levels of integration.

Several examples of this have been demonstrated to date.
i) Working with Dow Corning, we have been able to develop a siloxane waveguide technology formed directly on large area printed circuit boards so that multilayer electronic and photonic circuits can be formed using low cost processing, with the optical and electronic components populated using pick-and-place compatible approaches. Major demonstrators have include a 4x10Gb/s optical bus as well as a 40 Gb/s optical link. These will have applications in optical backplanes and chip to chip optical links in the near future.
ii) working with partners such as Oclaro and TUe, we have been able to demonstrate high port count integrated optical switches with record numbers of integrated components. The realisation within the project that the use of hybrid approaches to reduce the energy consumption of the switches has been successful and has the knock-on benefit that this approach also allows the scaling of the switch in all of the space, bandwidth and wavelength dimensions, leading to some world record results.
iii) we have also worked with partners in TUe to show how electronics can be closely linked with the switch to enable improved performance of the optics via combined switch path allocation and gain control algorithms.
Exploitation Route The work on the polymer waveguides is now receiving a lot of attention as it is believed that is a very attractive approach for improving the bandwidth.length product of interconnects for high end computer applications such as data centres and supercomputers (of course this will trickle down in the future).
The switch work has attracted interest from industry for its potential to help improve the performance of highly connected optical networks.
Sectors Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Electronics,Environment

Description The work on the polymer waveguides is now moving to commercialisation via our partners Dow Corning. The polymer waveguide approaches are being used by such industry leaders such as IBM and Xyratex in pre production prototypes and PCM manufacturers, such as TTM, are developing manufacturing approaches that incorporate the polymer waveguide technology.
First Year Of Impact 2010
Sector Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software)
Impact Types Economic

Description Converged Optical and Wireless Access Networks (COALESCE)
Amount £1,373,034 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/P003990/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2017 
End 12/2021
Description Dow Corning industrial funding
Amount £310,000 (GBP)
Organisation Dow Corning 
Sector Private
Country United States
Start 05/2013 
End 09/2015
Description Huawei Technologies Co., LT industrial funding
Amount £90,219 (GBP)
Organisation Huawei Technologies 
Sector Private
Country China
Start 05/2014 
End 05/2015
Title Supporting Data For "MIMO Capable RoF System with Improved SFDR using Quadruple Sidebands" 
Description Supporting data for MIMO Capable RoF System with Improved SFDR using Quadruple Sidebands 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Description Cambridge-Chalmers collaboration 
Organisation Chalmers University of Technology
Department Department of Microtechnology and Nanoscience
Country Sweden 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Cambridge University conducted high-speed data transmission experiments over polymer multimode waveguides using laser devices provided by Chalmers University. The Cambridge team designed, set up and conducted the experiments.
Collaborator Contribution Chalmers University of Technology provided high-bandwidth VCSEL devices to Cambridge University, enabling high-speed data transmission experiments over polymer multimode waveguides.
Impact The joint research work lead to 4 conference papers and 1 journal publication. The related publications are listed in the research outcomes of this project.
Start Year 2014
Description UK-China collaboration in passive optical networks 
Organisation Tsinghua University China
Country China 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution With one of the fellow visiting scholar from Tsinghua University, we developed the first low cost and low power consumption OFDM ECDMA PON for next generation access applications
Collaborator Contribution We developed the simulation model together to validate the whole OFDM ECDMA PON experimental results.
Impact We have published 3 journal papers and 1 conference papers based on this collaboration. This collaboration greatly enhanced the academic exchange and partnership between the best universities in both UK and China. [1] X. Guo*, Q.Wang, L.Zhou, L. Fang, A. Wonfor, R.V. Penty, I.H. White, "High Speed OFDM-CDMA Optical Access Network", Optics Letters, accepted on 29 Feb, 2016. [2]X. Guo*, Q.Wang, X. Li, L.Zhou, L. Fang, A. Wonfor, R.V. Penty, I.H. White, "First Demonstration of OFDM ECDMA for Low Cost Optical Access Networks", Optics Letters, Vol. 40, No. 10, pp. 2353-2356(2015). [3]Q.Wang, C.Qian, X.Guo*, Z. Wang, D. G. Cunningham, and I. H. White, "Layered ACO-OFDM for intensity-modulated direct-detection optical wireless transmission", Optics Express, Vol. 23, Issue 9, pp. 12382-12393 (2015) [4]X.Guo*, X. Li, A. Wonfor, L. Zhou, L. Fang, R. V. Penty, I. H. White, "8-User PAM-ECDMA PON with 25.6 Gb/s Aggregate Data Rate", Conference on Lasers and Electro Optics (CLEO), San Jose, CA, USA 2015
Start Year 2014